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== Introduction ==
I have never been a fan of fiction, I can count on two hands, the number of fictional books I have chosen to read as an adult and actually enjoyed. When Irvine Welsh's most famous novel 'Trainspotting' came out, a few of my friends had spoken about it and so I decided to read it, just to see what all the fuss was about. I loved it, I could relate to all the places mentioned in the book, being from Edinburgh, this book spoke to me. The places mentioned in the book weren't the usual places that you find in the glossy guide books, these places were where the underbelly of society frequented. A couple of weeks ago, I was thinking to myself "I need to start going to be earlier, I wish I was more of a reader, it would be nice to go to bed with a book". I remembered the only book I really got into, 'Trainspotting', so I decided to buy a few Irvine Welsh novels. One of the novels that came through the post was 'Filth', I decided to buy this one based on a trailer I had just seen for the film of the book and I wanted to read the book before I saw the film.
== The Book ==
The story centres around Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson, who is basically the lowest lowlife scumbag that you will probably have the displeasure to meet, if you came across him in real life. He is a police officer based in Edinburgh and to quote a line from the book, the reason he joined the force was "...it was due to police oppression. I'd witnessed it within my own community and decided it was something I wanted to be a part of, I smile". This is a man who doesn't care for anyone but himself and uses anyone he can for his own gain or amusement as we see how he treats his best friend Bladesy.
The main plot centres around the racial murder of a son of a diplomat, and of course, the press are having a field day...step up D.S. Robertson to head the investigation. Promotion time beckons for someone on the force and Bruce seems to want this promotion alright. In order to solve this case he must work with Amanda Drummond, who is about the only person that sees Bruce for what he really is and doesn't approve.
The book is mainly narrated from Bruce's view point and we also have the occasional chapter narrated from his estranged girlfriend Carole's view point, as the two of them are on a break or according to Bruce, she's away looking after her mother.
On top of this murder to solve, Bruce also needs to get to the bottom of this strange rash that is causing him so much discomfort, plan his winter vacation to Amsterdam and try and keep on the good side of his superior to try and get this promotion.
Throughout the book we learn more and more about Bruce, how he enjoys violent sex, thieving, taking drugs, drinking and basically tearing up the rule book of life, Bruce lives by his own rules. It's not all about trying to score a cheap laugh though, there are some really dark sad moments in the book too, although these are few and far between. Welsh doesn't condone the things the lead character does in the book, he doesn't condemn it either and lets you the reader make up your own mind and form your own opinions.
If easily offended by sexism, racism, perversion, murder, corruption, violent sex, sex in general or drug use, then this isn't the book for you.
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Vintage (12 Sep 2013)
Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2.8 cm
== The Author ==
Irvine Welsh is a Scottish author, who shot to fame when his first novel 'Trainspotting' became an overnight success in 1993. He has since gone on to write a further seven novels including a prequel and a sequel to 'Trainspotting'. This book was his third novel and although this story has nothing to do with 'Trainspotting', a couple of characters from 'Trainspotting' are mentioned briefly. He has also written a kind of sequel to this book called 'Crime', which was published in 2008.
== Price ==
The paperback can be purchased for £5.75 including delivery from www.amazon.co.uk, or if you prefer, you can buy the Kindle version for £4.74.
== Verdict ==
I loved this book it was one of those books that I just couldn't put down, and found myself going to bed earlier and earlier, just so I could have more time to read. The book is like a little black comedy, with some stomach churning moments and moments you probably shouldn't laugh at, but do. I am now looking forward to the film, although I will find myself comparing it too much to the book, as you usually do with these things. I wouldn't say this book is as good as 'Trainspotting', some aspects of the story are just as good in my opinion though and I am looking forward to reading the sequel, 'Crime', just to see what else he plans to do with the characters. Overall I found this book to be a thoroughly entertaining light hearted read. Obviously it goes without saying that this book is not going to be everyone's cup of tea and as I have already mentioned, there are some stomach churning moments in this. The warning on the back of the book does state that this book is "Suitable only for persons of strong constitution". 4/5 from me, it isn't as other books I have read by the same author, although it was still an entertaining read.
I first read this book in my early 20's but after finding it in HMV for £1.99 I decided to read it again.
If you are a fan of Irvine Welsh then this book will be a bit hit with you. It is written in Edinburgh dialect like most of his books and covers gritty topics. The main character in this book is a bigot, a homophobic, an alcoholic, a sexist and a racist. This doesnt make it sound like a good book but honestly he is the most intense main character I have ever read about. His name is Bruce Robertson and he is a detective in the Edinburgh police force. The book follows his journey as he tries to gain a promotion.
It is the kind of book that you dont really want to tell people the plot as it give too much away. For that reason I will only say a few things. Bruce is in a race for promotion against other detectives, most notibly Amanda Drummond and Ray Lennox. Ray is a rookie and Bruce takes him under his wing. Bruce intends to play them all against each other to gain his promotion. In the end it is Bruce that needs to watch out for them.
I cannot speak highly enough of this book and once you read it you will realise how hard it is to not give the plot away. It is a really dark book in places, but also has some really funny bits. Irvine has this way of writing that really makes you feel the emotions of his characters. You will be on a huge rollercoaster from start to end. The title 'Filth' is really appropriate in more ways than one.
The book has now been made into a film. I was lucky enough to attend the world premiere. The film really does the book justice although a few things have been changed. If you dont read the book please see the film. James McAvoy gives the performance of his career and makes a perfect Bruce.
Currently the book is available in an old stlye cover on amazon for £6.72. There is a newer cover version but this is more expensive.
Filth - Irvine Welsh
Description: Author: Irvine Welsh / Genre: Fiction
I am a big Irvine Welsh fan and so when this book came out, I rushed out to buy it, with high hopes that it would be up to the standard that he had set with his previous books. You cannot miss this book, it has a malevolent, smirking picture of a pig on the front, glaring out at you while wearing a policemans hat.
The book introduces us to Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson, a policeman from Edinburgh. Robertson has a large tapeworm in his his stomach who offers insight as the book goes on, into the depraved character that is Robertson. Imagine someone full of loathing for his fellow man, with a voracious appetite for sex, drugs and alcohol and no human empathy, and you get the basic idea.
Robertson is assigned a murder case along with a female colleague who he secretly despises (Amanda Drummond) and things deteriorate from there, allowing the reader to understand the true depths of his degredation and his addiction to all things sordid..
This book is written in an Edinburgh dialect, in the same way that Welsh's earlier books are (such as Trainspotting) which seems to be something that readers either love or loathe. I personally think it is brilliant but that may be because I am Scottish and can therefore imagine the characters saying the words. I discussed this book with an English friend who said that he really struggled with it, because he found the dialect difficult to understand but it really makes the characters come alive for me.
I am not sure that I enjoyed this book (though I am glad that I read it, if that makes sense?!), simply because Robertson is so vile that it makes you wonder as to the state of mind of the author! It is black comedy at its absolute blackest and not for the sensitive or easily shocked.
If you are a Welsh fan then then this book is a must read but prepare to encounter the nastiest forms of perversion and hatred as you do! It is a very clever book, and certainly does the author justice, even if it does make you feel downright uncomfortable while reading.
Whatever you might think of Irvine Welsh, however staid & self-indulgent his formula has become after successive re-treads, this book is his best.
It is basically a monologue, though told from three perspectives: Bruce Robertson, a racist, sexist, drug-guzzling bastard of a man, who is our anti-hero and whose disintegrating life/sanity the book charts, 'Carole' (you'll see why I use inverted commas if you read it) his estranged wife, and the tapeworm in his gut/mind who seeks to explain his sociopathic behaviour throughout in light of a slowly uncovered childhood - no-one said it was Terry Pratchett.
The plot basically concerns his current murder case (he is a DI) and an impending promotion (he wants to be a DS) - though it is more of a character study than a tightly plotted novel the story is interesting & twist-y enough to stop this book descending into snuff-level gratuity. That said, Bruce Robertson is a vile man; throughout the reader is treated to hilarious diatribes on his likes (sex, drugs, beer, 'hoors') and dislikes (his family, his superiors, the public, his 'friends', pretty much everything) - his schemes both minor and major - from humiliating pensioners to turning his colleagues and promotional rivals against one another, stealing their partners and 'exposing'/framing them as gays/perverts.
Inevitably, the whole thing falls apart; it isn't really ruining the plot to say this as it is inevitable from the outset (like the Titanic movie, only not shit). The last few chapters, in their hectic shifting of perspectives and rapid acceleration of events, really do make the world feel like it is crashing around our beleaguered anti-hero - and in their revelations ALMOST elicit a jot of sympathy for him and the sorry state his life is in.
I didn't like the phonetic Scotch at first, thinking it a little kitsch, though by the end I barely noticed it - sometimes it's a lot funnier for it too. It's dour in a Wasp Factory way (must be the weather in Scotland) though infinitely more brutal - I would not give this book to my grandparents. Though I enjoyed the relentlessly disgusting style I will point out (as this is a 'review') that many people will find it too sick to read. There is NO-ONE to like in this book. This book/author polarises opinion like no other I know; some people find his style pretentious, the 'Scotch' the most infuriating part of it; others realise that there truly is more to Welsh's work than shocking scenarios and screwed-up Scotsmen (except 'Glue' - which is a vapid and laboured effort much more deserving of said criticisms!!)
The book is bedecked with a drawing of a large fat ugly pig?s face and perched on the pig?s head is a traditional blue policeman?s helmet. A rather unsubtle hint as to the story within! THE PLOT The book is written in the first person and follows the life of Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson, a policeman from Edinburgh. Robertson is not a nice policeman. Robertson is not a nice man. He deliberately causes emotional pain to strangers, friends and family. He takes pleasure in ruining people?s belongings, relationships and careers. He is certainly not what we could call a sympathetic hero and so the reader must view the novel as an opportunity to get an insight into this man?s mind and to fathom his sadistic nature. Robertson is not well; he harbours a tapeworm within his gut. As the book progresses it is through this worm that we begin to learn more about the DS and his motives. WRITING STYLE In Welsh?s most renowned novel, ?Trainspotting?, the author utilised a heavy Edinburgh dialect in order to lend atmosphere to the book and to enable the reader to empathise with the characters and understand their position within society. It was also a new technique and was greeted by critics with high acclaim. In ?Filth? Welsh once more uses this technique. Robertson has a much lighter Edinburgh accent which is reflected in the phonetically written speech. However, at the start of the book the speech takes some time to become clearly phonetic and until the reader realises that the technique is being used it appears that the speech is nothing but stilted. A rather more unforgivable failing is that Welsh is not consistent in his use of the dialect; Robertson will refer to ?fitba? in one sentence but ?football? in the next. As a result the style adds nothing to the book and it begins to seem that Welsh is just trying to recreate the success of his earlier novel. Another rather flagrant attempt to be
different and adventurous in his writing style is made through punctuation. Or rather, lack of it! When a character speaks, Welsh, in his infinite wisdom, has decided to dispense with inverted commas and instead uses a hyphen at the beginning of each paragraph of speech. I can fathom no plausible reason for this and it just serves to annoy those readers to whom a bit of old-fashioned correct punctuation is as soothing as a cup of Horlicks at bedtime. ROBERTSON The book?s main character must be described as more of an anti-hero than hero. He has no redeeming qualities! He is racist, sexist and elitist and his prejudiced thoughts and opinions are reflected in the way he behaves. Having such a repellent main character can sometimes ruin a book, as there is no way in which the reader can empathise with the hero and can lead to an apathy as to the hero?s fate. However, Welsh does not fall into this trap. Robertson is not designed to be likeable. The reader is not supposed to empathise with him. Robertson is a character whom it is easy to hate and disgust at his behaviour, thoughts and lifestyle is engendered in the reader at an early stage. Instead the reader is intrigued by this revolting man and filled with curiosity as to what circumstances could have driven a man to become so bitter, so vile and so socially psychopathic. OTHER CHARACTERS The other people within the book consist mainly of Robertson?s work colleagues and friends. Those he considers as friends are not treated as such and he takes delight in putting paid to their chances of promotion or, in one instance, deliberately ruining both their career and personal romances. As the book is written in the first person, purely from Robertson?s perspective, the reader, although appalled at Robertson?s treatment, does not really come to empathise with the other characters. Instead the reader is imbued with a ghastly fascination of Robertson?s acti
ons towards those he calls friends. Interaction with these other characters does not introduce further interesting personalities to the reader, rather than lend further insights into the character of Robertson. THE TAPEWORM Sporadically throughout the book large areas of text are obliterated by what seems to be an intrusive block of script. This script is encapsulated in heavy bracket-like undulating lines and normally continues (still covering the text of the story) for at least half a page or more. The contents of these script bubbles start as being no more than a series of zeros interspersed with the odd word such as ?eat? or ?yes?. Yes, this is as bizarre as it sounds! As the book continues it becomes clear that this is the internal voice of the tapeworm inside Robertson?s guts. (Now, stop laughing!) As the book progresses the worm does more than just demand food; as the parasite begins to grow accustomed to its host it becomes more acutely aware of Robertson and his hidden thoughts and feelings and begins to tell the reader about his past, his childhood and his influences. Welsh used the tapeworm as a way of giving the reader the necessary insights into what may have caused Robertson to grow into the man he has become without having to use Robertson as his own mouthpiece (as this would force Robertson to be introspective, which is certainly not a trait of his personality). Used as a technique for this purpose it could be said to be very clever. Critics would be impressed but the average reader is just flabbergasted at the weirdness of the whole thing. It just seems rather more like another attempt to display a groundbreaking writing technique and is more likely to alienate the reader at an early stage in the novel before the purpose of the worm?s speech becomes clear. The reader could also conjecture that the worm?s words are actually a reflection of the contents of Robertson?s own mind and t
hat he has tendencies towards schizophrenia. However, if this is Welsh?s intent then it doesn?t quite work as the juxtaposition of the worm?s remarks with the action within the story make this impossible (I can?t state this clearer without giving away the plot, so excuse the vagueness!). THE WORM THAT TURNED Ultimately the worm technique is more likely to annoy the reader than impress. Combining this with the other inappropriate attempts to be different, such as the strange punctuation and phonetic writing, spells out just one thing; Welsh is trying too hard. Robertson is an intriguing character but his overwhelming revolting characteristics (ball-scratching, woman-hating, thieving, drug-taking etc) just appal the reader to the point where they are not interested in learning more about him. The book is readable but certainly a disappointment and Welsh is unlikely to receive any offers to transform it into a film starring Ewan Macgregor! OTHER INFO Publisher: Vintage, Random House, Vauxhall Bridge Rd, London, SW1V 2SA Website: www.randomhouse.co.uk Price: £5.99 ISBN: 0-099-59111-1
Bruce Robertson is a Detective Sergeant in the Edinburgh Police Force. It's coming up to Christmas and he's got his annual Amsterdam trip all booked up in a couple of weeks when a racist murder is committed on his patch. Given the police's reputation for not being too politically correct, and the fact that the victim is the son of diplomats, it is imperative that the murder gets solved quickly. Robertson, and his conscientious female colleague and figure of hate, Amanda Drummond, are assigned to lead the team on the case. Trouble is, Bruce Robertson doesn't care. More than that, in fact. He has a hatred of black people and a loathing for anything he sees as political correctness. He also hates his colleagues, poor people, women, procedures, criminals, rich people, winos, beggars, intellectuals and lefties. What he likes is porn, abusive sex, alcohol and drugs, and he makes sure he gets plenty of all of them. He spends his days avoiding solving crimes, shagging and lying to women, snorting coke, boozing, fighting, masturbating and watching porn. He is a freemason and uses his connections at every available opportunity to serve his own debauched ends. For amusement, he plays people off against each other and sits back and watches the sparks fly. If someone loses their livelihood/family/marbles in the process, so much the better. Bruce also has tapeworms. The novel has no apparent plot as such, but spends its time inside Robertson's sick, bile-filled psyche as he goes about his shagging, lying, cheating, fighting, masturbating, plotting and scoring coke. Though we are in his head, he tells us next to nothing about the real, deep down him. Instead we learn this from the tapeworm, who interrupts the narrative first to make its presence known and then to tell us stories about Bruce and what has made him what he is. Apart from the tapeworm's narratives, the novel is wr
itten in the hard Edinburgh dialect characteristic of Welsh's work. It is at times hard to understand, but part of the fun is in trying to figure out the slang. I found that once I was about 50 pages in, I was having no trouble. The book is a black comedy, and a relentless, uncompromising 393 pages of swearing, perversion, racism and misogyny. If you thought Brett Easton Ellis's Patrick Bateman was vile, believe me he has nothing on Bruce Robertson. It is apparent from the start that something is wrong in Bruce Robertson's head, and as the book progresses we discover his reasons to be tragic, comi-tragic and shocking. I won't give away the ending (although it's not too hard to guess as it's not really a traditional thriller). So, who will like this book? Well, I did, but then I do have a taste for the fiction of degradation. Call it cheap thrills, but I like to revel in the vile underbelly of society from the safe distance of a book. I found the book hilariously funny in parts, utterly sickening in others, and throughout I was exhilarated by Welsh's uncompromising prose. If you can't handle extreme swearing and extreme sex, don't touch this book with a bargepole. If you're looking for happy ever or romance, then go elsewhere. If, however, you're a lover of the sharp edge of contemporary fiction and all that it seeks to expose, you won't get your nose rubbed in it quite so disgustingly anywhere else. It's not a work of genius like 'Trainspotting' - for one thing it could have done with some serious trimming down - but it's a memorable and unputdownable book that drags you into a world of twisted morality and sleaze and spits you out shell-shocked. Widely available for around £5 at many internet bookstores, bearing a distinctive blue, yellow, pink and green cover with a picture of a pig wearing a policeman's helmet on th
e front. If you've got the stomach for it.
Following on from Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh creates a corrupt, prejudiced, debauched figure to rival even the most horrendous image of his previous novels. Detective Bruce Robertson is on a downward slide; failed marriage, drug addiction and an illness that threatens to ruin his wild weekend in Amsterdam. Set against the not so glamorous streets of Edinburgh, this is a tale that explores every form of corruption and exploitation as Robertson seeks to eliminate all threats to his promotion whilst exterminating the social minorities he so venomously despises. His actions betray a sense of inadequacy that Bruce determines to cover up at all costs; it is only in a confessional monologue that we discover just why he chooses to wallow in the social filth that he is paid to eradicate. If Filth makes it to the screens then it will be remembered for Robertson as probably the most hated character of contemporary literature. Until then sit back and enjoy a novel which will amuse, horrify and jar you into the terrible reality that is society. Welsh launches his biggest anti-PC novel yet and it is this which will shock readers most of all. Personally I think this is Welsh's best novel to date, hard-hitting with total disregard for the rules, no wonder he's a best-seller.
By the time 1998 came around, I was thoroughly fed up of Irvine Welsh. The fantastic "Trainspotting" had been followed by works of gradually decreasing merit, culminating in the abysmal "Ecstasy", and Welsh himself had become a media whore, popping up at every music biz party, writing laddish drivel for "Loaded" and generally revelling in his role of literary enfant terrible/working-class-boy-made-good, instead of actually justifying his reputation with any decent writing. That's why I've only just got around to reading "Filth", and I'm kicking myself for not having done so a lot sooner. For "Filth" sees Welsh right back on top of his game, spewing out incendiary prose that is simultaneously hilarious and repellent, and exploiting his readership's lust for vicarious squalid thrills with considerable gusto. The novel is narrated by DS Bruce Robertson, aan Edinburgh detective and one of the most grippingly loathesome characters in modern literature, with his heavy drinking, vindaloo diet, perverse sexual practices, huge collection of bad rock music, scabby genitalia, constant farting and bigoted opinions. His hilariously offensive musings on life, and occasional narration of the plot development (centering on the brutal murder of a visiting black journalist), are increasingly interrupted by the tapeworm living in his stomach, which he unwittingly plies with sausage rolls, curry, Guinness and vanilla slices, causing it to become more self-aware and add its philosophical viewpoint to the novel. It's the kind of literary game that only Will Self would have the confidence (and indeed the imagination) to try and pull off, and it's a sign of Welsh's increasing maturity as a writer that he carries it off with some degree of brilliance. As Robertson becomes increasingly revolting, so the book becomes more horribly compelling, often leaving the reader feel as sordid as some
of its characters - you really don't want people reading this over your shoulder on the train home. But since when has anyone read an Irvine Welsh book for the romance and the sentimentality? No, this is gritty, gruesome and frequently hilarious stuff, and a stunning return to form for one of Britain's potentially greatest writers.
It will be no surprise to those familiar with Irvine Welsh to hear that this books is pretty hard hitting. Charting the murky life of one of Edinburgh's less wholsome detectives (Sergeant Bruce Robertson) as he investigates the murder of a young man in the city centre, the book follows Robertson as insults and blags his way around the less tasteful elements of the city. This book isn't a typical murder mystery book, in fact the murder is a sub plot - in reality the book just charts Robertson, his nasty habits, his decline and ultimate downfall. Rather sureally he also has discussions with his own bottom, which don't add much in my opinion. Sometrime I felt Welsh had just written down a list of taboo subjects, from beastiality to drugs to corruption to embarrasing medical problems, and written a story about a policeman doing/suffering them all. That said it is well written with loads of colloquial stuff and reasonably entertaining with a fair amount of humour. However I havn't re-read it which I will usually do if I really like a book. Overall the sleaze and filth just got a bit too boring and lost their shock value. And the final twist was just a bit to unbelievable for me.
Filth truly represents Welsh's literary skills at their best. Not for the faint hearted due to the graphic descriptions of dirty habits, Filth is a tale of a policeman whose wife has left him with little consideration for the fact that his hygiene skills leave a lot to be desired! In reality DS Robertson is a truly disgusting leading man - the kind you would never wish to meet in fact - but as the story progressing the reader forms a strange affection towards his plight. A racist, backstabbing, uncaring, womanising and generally filthy slob is probably a complimentary way to describe our hero! The novel uses a lot of Scottish colloquialisms which rather than distracting from the meaning, add a wonderful sense of feeling to the tale. Without spoiling the story too much a considerable portion of the history is relayed to the reader in the voice of the tapeworm, which resides in his gut, and also from the voice of his estranged wife. There are also some wonderful twists throughout the story that, as realisation hits the reader, really show the literary genius of the writer. Another fantastic book from the author of Trainspotting which I am sure you will be unable to put down. *update* You can actually pick this book up a lot cheaper than £5.99. For example at bol.com it's only £4.79. I just didn't have a lot of choice in Manchester airport!
Filth by Irvine Welsh. Irvine has also wrote Ecstasy, The acid House, Trainspotting among others. This story is based on Detective sergeant Bruce Robertson. It starts in the Christmas Season, and a weeks trip to Amsterdam. He is single minded and evil, a sleaze and abusive cop. he has a cocaine addiction and his wife is missing after an argument, he is known for extra - marital affairs. And he gets a promotion at work. Then things start to get worse for Bruce. This is a really good well written book by an equally excellent author, check it out!